Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Pendleton Underground - Westward Ho! Part 6

Ball & Chain
Originally uploaded by Martina.
Let it not be said that Pendleton’s seedy side was solely comprised of bordellos. Oh, no, there were also gambling halls, speakeasies, opium dens and ominous Chinese laundries. Ok, the Chinese laundry was not that ominous, but it was down there. What was ominous, however, was the Chinese jail, which still displays a rusty and uncomfortable looking ball and chain.

The first place we visited in the underground was the Shamrock Card Room, which featured a group of really non-lifelike mannequins playing cards. As it turns out, the non-lifelike mannequin tableau is a hallmark of the Pendleton Underground. I couldn't help thinking that the Underground mannequins looked like they’d have gotten on well with the House on the Rock mannequins. Someone should hook them up. Sure, they come from different times and different places, but they (assuming mannequins have the capacity to appreciate anything) might enjoy being part of an all mannequin revival of Kate & Leopold. On the other hand, I can’t imagine that the card playing, gun-slinger mannequins would be as happy in Spring Green, Wisconsin as they are in their home under a bordello. Sure the HotR mannequins are nude, but they're probably all talk.

While the tour is short on naked mannequins, it does continue on through a series of rooms including the aforementioned Chinese jail, an opium den, and a big room where Chinese workers slept at night (presumably before Chinatown was built). The extensive network of tunnels originated beneath the city as a way for Chinese workers to get from place to place. There were curfews in place for the Chinese after dark, and there was a real danger of being used for target practice, if they were caught outside past curfew. This yet again proves to me that no one society has a monopoly on treating outsiders poorly.

Following the tour, we were starving. Luckily the Main Street Diner was only a few feet away. It was the life-sized Betty Boop outside on the sidewalk that caught our attention, but once we looked inside, we knew it was the right place for us. What was so great about it? It had food. It was also a cute, old school diner with burgers, fries and shakes. Really, at that point I didn’t care what they served. Jen is testing the cheeseburgers at various diners and proclaimed them good, but not as good as Big Jim’s in The Dalles. I am not testing burgers, but thought my Western Burger (basically a hamburger with some barbeque sauce and an onion ring on top) was okay too. Really, if we had waited much longer to eat, I would have happily eaten my shoe and called it haute cuisine. It is possible that this makes me not the best judge. Either way, we left the restaurant full and ready to continue on our trip, which lead us through La Grande and a series of other small towns.


Jen said...

Yeah - those Pendleton Underground mannequins make the House on the Rock mannequins look like fricking Michelangelo sculptures in comparison. the PU ones (heh) looked like they were made of wet toilet paper, sawdust, and paint, then forced to play cards and leer unconvincingly. It's like some sort of de-animated wild-west golem warehouse. cree-pee!

I recall that the Main Street Diner was not totally stingy with the b-rage, which was a nice surprise. One does work up quite the thirst learning about Pendleton's dirty little secrets.

Martina said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, smut makes you parched! The Main Street Diner WAS generous with the libations. The were definitely not playing it Rory-the-Squatter style. Plus, they had a life sized Betty Boop out front. What's not to love about the place?